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long term subtrate experience

I have been wondering how long the substrate of a planted tank is viable.

Lately I have been thinking (it happens sometimes, but not nearly enough) 
about the clay/compost substrate I had in one of my tanks. The root mass of 
plants grown in this substrate was many times larger than in the Dupla 
style substrate of another tank.
My guess is that the roots eventually clog up the substrate and the tank 
would have to be redone much sooner than in the other case.
In a nutrient poor substrate, plants rely obviously much more on the water 
column for their nutrient supply and will direct their growth there. The 
opposite had occured in my "rich" substrate tank.

So the questions are:
What are your long term (i.e. > 2 years) experiences with your substrate? 
Should the Dupla style of substrate be recommended for anticipated 
long-term setups? Are the "rich" substrates more appropriate for shorter 
term setups, experimental tanks, or plant propagation tanks?